The world is gray


No one person is entirely smart or dumb. Instead, a person may be smart in a specific scenario. Or, they may be dumb. More often than not, they are somewhere in between.

Likewise, no decision is entirely right or wrong.  And no person is entirely right or wrong. There are reasons why something is right, and reasons why something may be wrong. For the toughest decisions, there is no right or wrong answer. You win some and you lose some.

As I grow up, this lesson continually reveals itself as one of the most important lessons in life. Most human problems are not black and white. There are too many facets of life, too many dimensions of our personality, too many potential people to deal with, and too many situations within the world for things to be the case. Instead, human problems tend to live in a gray area. And because business problems are often human problems, business problems also tend to live within a gray area.

Here are some important caveats:

  • People like to argue the two ends of the spectrum. They forget there is an entire gray area in between.
  • When you are presented with a problem, think hard about whether it actually is a problem. If you don’t think there is a problem, try to figure out why there might be a problem. Things aren’t as simple as problematic or unproblematic.
  • When you are presented with a few options, there are usually more options available.
  • If you think you are smart or dumb (or, right or wrong), you are probably somewhere in between.
  • If you think someone else is smart or dumb (or, right or wrong), they are probably somewhere in between.
  • In general, when you find yourself or someone else judging another person, the judgement is probably not entirely right or wrong. If the judgement is good, that isn’t always a bad thing: you just gave someone more credit than they deserve. If the judgement is bad, it is almost always a bad thing. Why put someone down like that?
  • If you are arguing someone who can’t consider the other side of something, it probably isn’t worth arguing with them.
  • When you think you won something, think about what you lost. And vice, versa.
  • When you see someone who tends to quickly and confidently come to decisions, they tend to be full of more bullshit than you can imagine. When you see someone who is tentative about being right, they probably have something interesting to add to the discussion.
  • When you give advice, there are reasons why it is right, and reasons why it is wrong. Same thing with when you get advice.
  • People who truly understand that the world is gray tend to be more humble.

Got any more? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. This is post number #66 in a 100 day blogging challenge. See you tomorrow!

Follow me on Twitter @alexshye.

Or, check out my current project Soulmix.

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